April 22, 2020/Blog, Media

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa Pens Op-Ed Highlighting Republican Failures on Healthcare

Read the full op-ed below, first seen in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“A decade before our country was confronted with this deadly coronavirus outbreak, Democrats were spearheading affordable healthcare legislation. President Barack Obama signed the landmark Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, greatly expanding health coverage. Our Democratic leaders remain committed to ensuring even more coverage and safeguarding the health of the American people.

Trump Republicans across the country, though, remain fixated on stripping 20 million people, including 1.1 million Texans, of critical healthcare.

Their attempts to undermine healthcare developments have undoubtedly exacerbated the fallout of COVID-19. However, the Republican crusade against healthcare reform isn’t just a national issue, it has plagued statewide governments as well.

Texas is the prime example. Texas currently ranks dead last in health care coverage, with the most uninsured residents. The severity of these numbers have only been amplified during the time of the coronavirus. According to a new report, Texas is among the states with the least effective coronavirus responses. Because of Governor Greg Abbott’s failure to adequately address the pandemic, Texas ranks 49th out of 51 states and Washington, D.C.

Texas remains the uninsured capital of the nation, and yet, Gov. Greg Abbott remained vehemently opposed to expanding Medicaid, even during the pandemic.

Had Texas decided to expand Medicaid, the federal government would have footed 90% of the bill, and it would undoubtedly make the population of Texas healthier. According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas has lost $65.6 billion in federal funding over the past decade because of Republican refusal to expand Medicaid.

So why do Republicans oppose expanding Medicaid? The opposition is political. Republicans oppose Medicaid expansion because of its association with the Affordable Care Act; public health be damned.

Under normal circumstances, Republican opposition to Obamacare is an irritating tenet of past partisan politics. During a global pandemic, however, it is the difference between life and death.

On the federal level, the situation is much worse. President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic has been ridden with chaos and misinformation after he failed to act swiftly and decisively once the first coronavirus case in the U.S. was reported. Despite mismanaging the nation’s coronavirus response, the president still makes abolishing the Affordable Care Act a signature tenet of his administration.

Naturally, Republican senators such as Texas’ John Cornyn have failed to stand up to Donald Trump’s crusade of political vengeance, explaining why Cornyn has earned the moniker “Obamacare Repeal’s Top Salesman.” He has spearheaded numerous proposals to repeal the ACA without a systemic replacement.

The kicker is that even as the president attempts to abolish the law, Trump has actually been forced to rely on key provisions of the ACA to fight the spread of coronavirus. The law established the CDC Prevention and Public Health Fund, which helps states prepare for disease outbreaks.

After repeatedly trying to slash Medicaid and cut millions of Americans from its coverage, the Trump administration is now relying on it for low-income Americans to get their health care. The administration has also labeled coronavirus tests an “essential health benefit” in order to make them free to patients with ACA-compliant plans, despite spending years trying to loosen federal rules on what health insurers must cover.

Republicans shifting to Democratic policies during times of crisis proves that Democratic policies have been right for the American people all along.

While we grapple with the coronavirus outbreak and millions of uninsured Texans struggle with their options during the pandemic, we can look no further than Republicans’ harmful healthcare policies. They didn’t create the global health crisis, but they’ve undoubtedly exacerbated its effects.

Healthcare is a fundamental human right, and preserving and expanding it should be the utmost priority for every elected official. Republicans must be held accountable for the harm they have caused.”